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Lu, Zipeng; Weniger, Maximilian; Jiang, Kuirong; Böck, Stefan; Zhang, Kai; Bazhin, Alexander; Miao, Yi; Werner, Jens and D'Haese, Jan G. (2018): Therapies Targeting the Tumor Stroma and the VEGF/VEGFR Axis in Pancreatic Ductal Adenocarcinoma: a Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. In: Targeted Oncology, Vol. 13, No. 4: pp. 447-459

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Abundant tumor stroma is a hallmark of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC), and is suggested to play a role in the resistance of this deadly disease to systemic treatment. Despite promising results from preclinical studies, clinical trials with therapies targeting the tumor stroma and the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and its receptor VEGFR yielded conflicting results. With this systematic review and meta-analysis, we aim to summarize the existing evidence in this important field with a special focus on anti-VEGF/VEGFR therapy. A total of 24 clinical studies were included in the qualitative synthesis, and six randomized controlled trials (RCTs) investigating anti-VEGF/VEGFR agents were further included in the quantitative synthesis. The qualitative synthesis revealed a treatment advantage of combined therapy with nab-paclitaxel, while the meta-analysis on anti-VEGF/VEGFR drugs demonstrated marginal improvement of objective response rates and progression-free survival, but not overall survival. Stroma targeting is a promising and rapidly-developing treatment strategy in PDAC. However, novel drugs balancing stroma depletion and modulation are needed.

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